The Best BJJ Documentaries to Watch

The Best BJJ Documentaries to Watch

In this article, we've put together a list of available documentaries. So, grab a cup of popcorn and settle down for a night of excellent watching!

1. List of Documentaries

1.1. Choke

Photo credit: @imdb

Choke remains the most renowned documentary on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for more than 20 years following its release.

The film follows the life of young Rickson Gracie. It's a captivating experience that offers a glimpse into the soul of the most famous BJJ athlete ever. The documentary follows Rickson’s struggles such as his frequent doubts and overcoming obstacles that get in his way. Rickson is the creator of Gracier BJJ and considered a contemporary poet and warrior.

1.2. Eddie Bravo: Building an Empire

Eddie Bravo:  Building an Empire
Photo credit: @flograppling

Among the most influential innovators of BJJ is Eddie Bravo. He is responsible for the invention of the rubber protector and various other techniques in jiu-jitsu.

Building an Empire offers insight into Bravo’s thinking process that led to the development of his jiu-jitsu instruction, his thoughts on jiu-jitsu in MMA, and his teaching style.

1.3. Jiu-Jitsu Vs. The World

Jiu-Jitsu Vs. The  World
Photo credit: @whats-on-netflix

JJVS is a multi-media project that features interviews with several BJJ legends, including Renzo Grace, Rigan Machado, Eddie Bravo, Kurt Osiander, and others. If you're trying to introduce someone to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, this documentary should be your recommendation.

One subject isn't covered in detail, but it's an excellent introduction to BJJ. It covers various topics such as what jiu-jitsu is, its origins, and the jiu-jitsu lifestyle. Other content includes the reason for BJJ, lessons about the belt system, women's involvement in BJJ, children’s involved in BJJ, etc.

1.4. Stuart Copper's Mini Docs

Stuart Copper has been making trailers and short films for a long time. Most of his videos run between five to 20 minutes. They are a collection of original footage shot while he was traveling. He has yet to create any videos of extended length; yet you could quickly lose yourself in the playlists Copper has put together for up to an hour.

Stuart is incredibly well-connected as his video clips are an alphabetical list of celebrities, including Marcelo Garcia, Craig Jones, and Nathan Orchard. Stuart is adept at creating tension and making already exciting matches even more thrilling.

1.5. Roll: Jiu-Jitsu in SoCal

Roll: Jiu-Jitsu in  SoCal
Photo credit: @pxfuel

Roll explores the origins of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in America and its importance in Southern California. This well-made documentary is notable for the journey that takes viewers through famous BJJ spots, such as the original Gracious Garage located in Torrance. Also, it features interviews with several American students from the Gracie family. Some are famous for their work, such as Scott Nelson. Some were just casual students who had just made it to the next level in their careers.

The film is refreshingly unfocused on interviewing only world-class athletes and famous brands. Instead, it takes us back to the 1980s, seeing through the eyes of young students trying to master jiu-jitsu in a culture still obsessed with karate and Bruce Lee.

1.6. Jiu-Jitsu Lifestyle Vol 1 & 2 Arte Suave

Jiu-Jitsu Lifestyle  Vol 1 & 2 Arte Suave
Photo credit: @imdb

This documentary is an excellent tiny video magazine-style film with high-quality video footage from some top Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. Xande Ribeiro Marcelo Garcia, Ricardo Vieira, Ronaldo Jacare, Andre Galvao, and Roger Gracie appear in the documentary to discuss and showcase techniques, sparring, theories, and interviews.

It provides an exciting insight into the world of BJJ for those who are unfamiliar with martial art.

1.7. The Way of Jiu-Jitsu

With a running time less than 20 minutes, The Way of Jiu-Jitsu is an excellent alternative to the longer documentaries on this list. It's an excellent film featuring conversations with the most renowned BJJ practitioners, including Roberto "Cyborg" Abreu, Cobrinha, and Renzo Gracie.

The Way of Jiu-Jitsu is a documentary about BJJ that is great inspiration for those who want to get into the martial art . It covers many aspects, such as the BJJ learning process and the teachings of top jiu-jitsu teachers. Also, it offers a glimpse of the jiu-jitsu's lifestyle and the philosophy behind it.

1.8. Anatomy of a Fighter- The Way of Jiu-Jitsu Mini-Series

Anatomy of a Fighter talks about BJJ, MMA, and boxing. It's a feature that focuses on athletes, their coaches, how they train, and why they are passionate about martial art. You can expect to see stars like Rahgad Evans, Cyborg Abreu, Royce Gracie, Cobrinha, Randy Couture, Kamaru Usman, Evander Holyfield, etc. A crazy good documentary!

1.9. Invisible Force - Jiu-Jitsu Documentary

Tony Pacenski made a mark by releasing the Invisible Force documentary among all of the top BJJ documentaries.

Tony is a black belt in the class of Rodrigo Medeiros. He has a lot of fascinating information throughout his film, mainly focusing on Rickson's Gracie's instructions on how to do invisible jiu-jitsu. Tony clarifies concepts such as connection and the fundamentals of jiu-jitsu and tells his journey's story. Also, there's information about Rickson's Jiu-Jitsu World Federation and other exciting topics.

1.10. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu - The Great Ego Destroyer

Train your body and mind by learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In this sport, personal improvement is as vital as fighting or fitness. Learn why BJJ is so enthralling for people who want to push themselves and discover new lifestyles. Transform fear into courage, rejection into understanding, and violence into compassion for yourself and others.

The Great Ego Destroyer will teach you how to break free of the negative habits that hold you back from living a fulfilling life and encourage you to attend a class every week to work with like-minded people who share similar goals and dreams.

David Torres Labansat talks about your personal growth and development through jiu-jitsu. In contrast to many other documentaries listed here, it focuses on the ordinary practitioners who train regularly. This film talks about their experiences with BJJ and its various aspects, such as the art of competing, learning with ego, as well as the philosophy behind BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu), which helps to understand why instructors love Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and "the gentle art form that has been enthralling us for many centuries!"

1.11. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Action

This documentary is on DVD and covers many fights in the Gracie Garage. There are many legendary fights on the show, including the very first battle that took place between Rorion Gracy and Jason De Lucia. Also, there's footage showing Royler and Royce facing Judo's black belts and some of Rickon Gracie's adventures. The most famous is the well-known beach brawl in Rio De Janeiro, worth watching.

1.12. The Saint of Crackland

The Saint of  Crackland
Photo credit: @filmfreeway

Imagine a documentary that follows jiu-jitsu in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods. Ryan Ford is brought to Brazil and immediately thrown into Cracolandia, one of the most dangerous areas on Earth. Brazilian youths are exposed to criminals and drugs at a young age.

After witnessing firsthand how the area affected the people around him and his spiritual journey as he discovered more about the potential of jiu-jitsu, Ryan became convinced that the state of Cracolandia was something he wanted to communicate to the world.

The Saint of Crackland includes footage of his journeys in Brazil (with English subtitles) and interviews with volunteers working on local social programs, such as redemption for children from marginalized communities across Sao Paulo.

It explains how the program began and includes interviews with Lael Rodrigues, the primary instructor, and young Brazilians training in jiu-jitsu who are part of the program.

1.13. Franjinha and the House of Paragon

Franjinha and the House of Paragon
Photo credit: @jiujitsuparents

Everyone loves an underdog story. This documentary on the life of jiu-jitsu trainer and athlete, Ricardo "Franjinha" Miller is an inspiring tale: from his beginnings in Brazil until his relocation to the USA and co-founding of Paragon Academy, we get an insight into the ways he has dealt with many obstacles. A must-see film for every professional athlete, martial artist, or career changer, this inspirational documentary is filled with student interviews sharing their thoughts about Miller's unique teaching style and effective coaching methods.

1.14. Renzo Gracie Legacy

Renzo Gracie is among one of the most famous figures in martial arts, not just because of his fantastic ability but also because of the impact he has left on BJJ. This documentary examines how Renzo Gracie became so revered within MMA circles. Learn about his relationship with his brother Ryan who passed away from a gunshot wound, and his participation in the Pride 1 & 2, Pride Bushido, and International Fight League. 

1.15. Kurt Osiander - My Goal Is Not Just to Teach You Jiu-Jitsu

Kurt  Osiander - My Goal Is Not Just to Teach You Jiu-Jitsu
Photo credit: @imdb

Kurt Osiander is an exciting person in the BJJ world and has a vibrant personal life and an impressive YouTube channel packed with videos showcasing various techniques.

The documentary made by Stuart Cooper is from 2014 and doesn't cover Osiander's current whereabouts since the end of his teaching at Ralph Gracie's academy. However, it's still worth watching. It's an in-depth look at the beginning of his jiu-jitsu career, his teaching style, his thoughts about BJJ's future, and his creative side such as his tattoos.

1.16. Brave New World - A Short Jiu-Jitsu Film

Brave New  World - A Short Jiu-Jitsu Film
Photo credit: @reddit

This video covers one of the more challenging situations for a BJJ practitioner. There are not many things more satisfying than helping people who have served their country, yet this is among the most challenging things to accomplish when trying to learn jiu-jitsu. This film will present a variety of ways BJJ practitioners can aid veterans who suffer from PTSD. Please go through it and let jiu-jitsu transform your life as well.

1.17. The Day of the Zen

The Day of the Zen is a sub documentary featuring Mario Sperry and the Brazilian Top Team being filmed in the gym, during training sessions, and in the fighters’ personal lives.

1.18. The Gracies and the Birth of Vale Tudo (2010)

The  Gracies and the Birth of Vale Tudo (2010)
Photo credit: @amazon

There is a myriad of films about this highly regarded family of champions. The documentary The Gracies and the Birth of Vale Tudo is a film that captures their culture and traditions. The Gracie dynasty's story and the beginnings of MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are deeply connected.

The documentary covers the beginning of BJJ and its founders, Helio and Carlos Gracie, and the peak of BJJ when it was introduced to UFC through Rorion Gracie. If you're looking for a deeper look at the victories, defeats, controversy, and family's philosophy, which forever altered the martial arts world, it's a "must watch."

1.19. Warrior (2011)

Warrior (2011)
Photo credit: @screenrant

We can't end this article without mentioning Warrior. Okay, it's not a BJJ film. However, the film is fantastic! If you're an MMA fan but haven't seen this movie yet, you ought to.

Warrior is the story of a former marine, Tommy (Tom Hardy), and math teacher, Brendan (Joel Edgerton). Two brothers who are estranged and have a history of professional MMA fighting end up competing in a competition against the world's greatest fighters to win one million dollars.

Beyond the engaging story and superb acting from Nick Nolte and Frank Grillo, Warrior is an excellent action film for families (a couple of hours of entertainment is guaranteed) and has some great fight scenes.

1.20. BJJ Globetrotters Documentary

BJJ Globetrotters Documentary
Photo credit: @bjjglobetrotters

This documentary focuses on the funniest things that have happened in contemporary BJJ. The concept of Globetrotters is to have fun. It's not the typical way of practicing BJJ; however, the Globetrotters’ idea of training and travel is a hit.

2. Last Words

Whether you're a white belt or a black belt, there's something for everyone to learn from these documentaries. If you haven't watched them all, include them in your collection! Share your top choice in the comment section below. Which was your top BJJ documentary?

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